So this is a tricky one for me, I have always been a keen sportsman and very competitive, so when at the age of 48 I started to have a knee issue, mainly during games of tennis and when out jogging I turned to cycling as an option.
Cycling is a great low impact form of exercise which develops strong muscles around the knees and a healthy heart, before long I was putting in some serious mileage and shedding the pounds, back in the game!
What if you want to maintain a strong physique?
As a fitness professional I would say absolutely! It can be both challenging and social, it has made me focus on my nutrition and strength, due to the hilly terrain where I live, which is a good thing as at this age it is important to pay attention to muscle mass and functional fitness.
There are 4 mistakes you should avoid.
Mistake 1: Not using speed work
This is where the mileage junkies hang out, it’s all about time in the saddle and typically all at pretty much the same intensity, which on a scale of 1 to 10, one being very easy, they tend to work at a 5 or 6. this is not good if you are concerned about preserving muscle, I call these junk miles as so much of your training time in this zone means that you’re never challenging yourself enough to make your body adapt and improve.
Mistake 2: doing the same thing all the time
Doing the same work out on the same day, week after week this is unnecessary and boring, try to have as much variety as possible. If you decide to make Tuesday’s for interval, Thursday’s hills and long rides at the weekend you can get into a rut. play around with when and where you can fit your rides in, making it easier to adjust when you life throws you a curve ball.
Mistake 3: Not allowing recovery
Now this is kind of a positive mistake as it shows that you have become a bike enthusiast that trains regularly and is pretty serious about things. These are the guys who when out with their club on a group ride tend to find it tough keeping up with the fast boys at the front, but never miss a session. As you get older it takes longer to recover, if you are training 3/4 times a week at high intensity, there is probably no way you will get the chance for a complete recovery. I always include a solo ride that is super easy paying attention to my heart rate and enjoying the scenery.
Mistake 4: Staying on the bike all the time
Never getting off the bike to do any other kind of training. All cyclist can improve their comfort, endurance and speed by training off the bike, as well as developing their overall health and fitness. I have seen a lot of cyclist that train harder or more often than me, those same cyclist are also more overweight and are carrying more injuries than me too. this could be due to poor diets, muscle imbalances, a plateau in their training, or a combination of all of those factors.
Off the bike training should include flexibility, mobility and strength training, at the end of the day most of us have jobs that require us to be seated for long periods of time, cycling then puts us into a even worse position, we owe it to ourselves to try and redress the balance.
Avoid the four mistakes above and I believe a 50 year old can enjoy at least another 20 years quality time in the saddle, enjoy!